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News Release: June 22, 2009
Second Annual WGA Silverdocs Documentary Screenplay Award Goes to Nicole Opper and Avery Klein-Cloud for Off and Running

NEW YORK, LOS ANGELES -- The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) have named writers Nicole Opper and Avery Klein-Cloud as the winners of the second WGA SILVERDOCS Documentary Screenplay Award for their film Off and Running. The award was presented by WGAE President Michael Winship at Saturday’s awards ceremony at the AFI Theater in Silver Springs, MD. The honor goes to the qualifying screenwriter of a feature-length film who demonstrates screenwriting excellence in the documentary genre.

"With this award at the AFI-Discovery Channel SILVERDOCS Documentary Festival, the Writers Guilds of America, East and West, are pleased to honor quality and achievement in documentary screenwriting. As more and more of the viewing audience realizes the capacity of documentaries to deliver compelling storytelling, there is greater awareness of the crucial role fine writing plays. We are proud to acknowledge such excellence, creativity and skill,” said WGAE President Michael Winship.

“Documentary screenwriting is an underappreciated and under recognized craft. This award is our way of showing appreciation and recognition,” said WGAW President Patric M. Verrone.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with the Writers Guilds of America for a second year, recognizing the critical role of writing in non-fiction filmmaking. We couldn’t be more delighted about their choice to celebrate Off and Running for their eloquent writing that shapes its dramatic story,” said SILVERDOCS Artistic Director Sky Sitney.

The WGA SILVERDOCS Documentary Screenplay Award carries a prize of $1,000. In addition, the winner is granted membership in either the WGAE Nonfiction Writers Caucus or WGAW Nonfiction Writers Caucus.

Nominees for this year’s WGA Documentary Screenplay Award at SILVERDOCS 2009 were:

21 BELOW / USA, 2008, 91 minutes (Written by Zeke Farrow; Director: Samantha Buck) – Buffalo, New York sets the backdrop for this engrossing and provocative portrait of a middle-class Jewish family in turmoil. Pregnancy, illness, class and race collide as this family tries to cope with tragedy.

OFF AND RUNNING / USA, 2009, 80 minutes (Written by Nicole Opper and Avery Klein-Cloud; Director and Producer: Nicole Opper) – Avery is an accomplished African-American teenager adopted by Jewish lesbians. Her curiosity about her birth mother becomes a painful examination of race and identity that upends the family and threatens to derail Avery’s dreams.

THE WINDMILL MOVIE / USA, 2008, 80 minutes (Written, Edited and Directed by Alexander Olch) – Richard P. Rogers was a celebrated documentarian who, despite amassing more than 20 years and 200 hours worth of footage, was never able to complete his autobiographical magnum opus. After his death, a former student, Alexander Olch, excavates Rogers’s archives and creates a complex portrait of an endearing and contradictory artist and man.

To be eligible for the WGA SILVERDOCS Award, SILVERDOCS documentaries were required to meet the following criteria: Writer(s) must have received an approved onscreen screenwriting credit, and a script must be submitted for consideration, i.e., a screenplay or transcript.

In recent years, the Writers Guilds have increased their outreach and organizing efforts to build a strong community of nonfiction writers, with an aim to bring more documentaries under WGA contracts. The WGA’s Documentary Screenplay Contract enables writers to write and sell documentary screenplays using partial or completely deferred fees while receiving Writers Guild benefits and protections. Questions regarding joining the Writers Guild through documentary work may be directed to the WGAE’s Justin Molito at (212) 767-7808 or email: Justin Molito and also the WGAW’s Kay Schaber Wolf at (323) 782-4731 or email: Indie Program.

This season, SILVERDOCS 2009 presented a total of 122 diverse films, representing 58 countries selected from 1,983 submissions with seven world, three North American, 12 U.S., and 14 East Coast premieres plus 12 retrospective films. Now in its seventh year, SILVERDOCS and its concurrent International Documentary Conference honors excellence in filmmaking, supports the diverse voices and free expression of independent storytellers and celebrates the power of documentary – past, present, and future – to enhance the understanding of the world. At this year’s festival, a wide range of documentary films from around the globe screened in six distinct sections: Sterling U.S. Feature Competition, Sterling World Feature Competition, Music Documentary, Sterling Short Film Competition, Silver Spectrum and Special Programs. Additional information about SILVERDOCS is available at www.silverdocs.com.

The Writers Guild of America, East and the Writers Guild of America, West are labor unions representing writers in motion pictures, broadcast, cable, news and new media. The WGAE and WGAW are active in legislative activities on the state, federal, and international levels with a special focus on globalization, labor, communications, and copyrights. They also conduct a number of programs, seminars, and events on issues of interest to, and on behalf of writers. For more information about the Writers Guild of America, East, visit www.wgaeast.org. For more information about the Writers Guild of America, West, visit: www.wga.org.